Meet “the Russian”

After tearing my ACL, my quads on the injured leg stopped functioning normally. I couldn’t contract them forcefully. Actually, I had very little control over them at all.

Four weeks after surgery and thousands of squats later, I still don’t contract them all normally. My vastus medialis, in particular, is kind of wonky.

If you’re keen on knee anatomy, like me, here’s a picture:

My PT decided today that I needed to meet “the Russian.”

Say wha?!

Fortunately, he’s not some sunglasses-wearing mobster intent on cracking my knee a few degrees further. The Russian is just a form of stimulation that uses electricity to contract muscle tissue. A pad does on the part of your leg where the muscle connects to the joint and another pad goes on the belly of the muscle. Then the therapist cranks up the electricity until your muscle contracts. It’s 10 seconds on followed by a 10 second rest. When the electricity is pumping, I’m supposed to contract my muscle at the same time.

The theory behind it is that it helps “re-educate” the muscle. (Ah yes, it has mob roots after all.) Kidding aside, research shows that it may truly help build strength better than exercises alone. Sounds like a arrow, I should be happy to have in my quiver.


Kim KM, Croy T, Hertel J, Saliba S. (2010). Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction on quadriceps strength, function, and patient-oriented outcomes: a systematic review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.;40(7):383-91. Web. 24 Feb 2013.

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